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Letters to the Editor

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Worthy alternativeI would like to comment on Susan Nottingham’s remark that “conservation easements are nothing more than selling the ranch and keeping the work.””Conservation easements do restrict development and therefore the marketability of a ranch to developers, but there are other buyers, like Ted Turner, Ralph Lauren, John McBride in Aspen, and hundreds of others, who have purchased ranches with no intention of subdivision development.Conservation easements are a plus for them. The sum total of funds received to agree to a conservation easement, and a subsequent sale of the ranch to a non-developer could, in fact, exceed, the amount received just from a developer.Add to this the fact that we are losing over a million acres of agricultural land a year in this country, and food prices are rapidly rising due to increased fuel costs, and common sense says that agricultural land, for agriculture, is only going to increase in value.So if conservation easement money is offered, I would recommend ranchers consider it seriously. It will give them an infusion of capital that wil allow them to continue doing what they love the most, and getting out profitably will still be an option if necessary.Roger Brown Brown is an independent candidate for commissioner.Hard timesI’m writing to give an up date on business in Lionshead this summer. It’s ugly! At first I thought it might be my shop’s location but after an informal poll of Lionshead businesses I have found the same response – ugly!Today I’m having a good day, I’ve rented one bike, this past weekend I had no rentals. Last year at this same time I’d rent six or more bikes on any given day and 15 to 20 on a busy day.I understand that running a small business is risky and I’ve chosen that risk, but it frustrates me when I see how my town council has failed to address the financial strain to small merchants when approving the Lionshead redevelopment. Yes, we did get Vail Resorts to pay for streetscape but why didn’t we ask for more! They have made millions and will make millions more in the future while small businesses in Lionshead and Vail struggle to pay rent.The developers will argue that once the project is complete everyone will benefit. Yeah, maybe, I’m not sold, with projected rents of $100 per square foot, many small businesses will not make it, but Vail Resorts and other big developers will.We need to take care of local Vail businesses that are in business today! We are the character of our community and we have weathered it all till now.This past spring the Vail merchant association ask VR to run the gondola for free. They refused. They argued that $300,000 was more than they could afford, this is the same company that sold out all of its condo units in a half hour. I would offer that as a group, Lionshead merchants collectively, have lost twice that figure.Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming Vail Resorts. They’re doing what’s best for their shareholders. That’s good business.Instead, the town of Vail invested $30,000 in a climbing wall and jugglers. Oh boy! The masses have spoken, and are flocking to Vail Village and other communities.The summer of 2007 will be another summer of construction, and I would ask the Vail Town Council to require the developer to include a mitigation plan for lost business to local merchants before approving any development. I cannot afford another summer like this one! I would ask that the council require a developer to set aside a budget for special events and advertising.Had we required Vail Resorts to run the gondola for free and advertised that fact, I would wager Lionshead would have seen much more traffic and business. Remember it is our community and they are selling it for top dollar. We deserve our share. We control the approval of their projects.Finally I would like to bring up the parking structure. I understand that we have narrowed the bidders to two and East West Partners is one of the finalist. Why? Why don’t we have more bidders, and how did we get here so quickly.It concerns me that we once again might be giving away too much to get this project built. It is my understanding that Vail Resorts would control all retail space built in the new structure. Is it me or does this sound a little fishy? Why would we give away the retail or parking revenues to Vail Resorts or any developer when the town is already in the business of renting spaces in the parking structures.I understand Vail Associates donated the land 30 years ago but don’t we have any other option. It seems by giving this bid to a Vail Resorts partner, we’re kind of giving the fox the keys to the hen house.Vail Resorts will end up controlling all the retail space and all the lease rates in town, that’s not a good thing for Vail or small businesses.I’ll concede the council is trying to be fiscally responsible, but in my mind we should be funding this project and reaping the rewards, and not bailing out Vail Resorts from a parking problem they have created at our community’s expense. We need more parking. Ask for it! Let’s slow down and make sure we have best deal for the community. What, are the developers going to move Vail mountain to Iowa and build a parking lot? No. Our piece of paradise isn’t going anywhere, but the price sure is and developers know this and want it cheap. Hold out. They’ll pay, and we deserve it! If this was Vail Resort’s property, they’d pave paradise and sell it for top dollar. It’s called good business.I would remind the council that it represents all the citizens and businesses of Vail, and not just the board of directors for Vail Resorts or East West Partners. Your responsibility is to set aside your own interests for the good of the community. Please reach for the sky it’s our communities future. Let’s be good businessmen.Tommy NeyensVail, Colorado


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